When I entered the gates, I felt as if my ears and eyes were on fire – the sounds, the cacophony of color and, and life such as I’d never seen before. Worlds away from the dark, drab society that was the System, I was immediately frightened by this drastic difference, this odd jumble of language and cultures as we traversed through the Marketplace, Ry snickering softly when I sneezed from all the spices and smells. I choked on a cloud of curry powder carried by the wind from a merchant’s scales, hurriedly aided by a man who poured tea from a great metal contraption strapped to his back, Ry eying him cautiously when he offered me the glass. I drank and nearly choked again, strong as it was, black, bitter, but also satisfying. I asked for another and this time he dropped a square of sparkling stuff in the bottom and poured, the square dissolving almost immediately. I could smell the sweetness before it even touched my lips and it was the most wonderful, amazing thing I’d ever experienced! Sugar – surely a gift the Old Ones left to only the Patricates, here in the Outlands!
“You must never tell of this,” Ry said, a serious gleam in his usually mischievous gaze, “if the Sovereign ever found out we had sugar, it’d be the death of us all.”
I couldn’t tell if he was joking or serious – I mean, surely a small square of Heaven wouldn’t be cause for wholesale execution? Then again, one was imprisoned for wearing the wrong colors of their Class, as if a splash of orange were an offense to the Sovereign’s eyes upon a Serf’s lowly person, so I could only imagine what riot the forbidden spices would cause.
I learned then that the Enforcers guarding the gates were given portions of contraband for their silence on the matter, that not everyone who followed the Edicts did so entirely to the letter, that if sugar was a sin, one could be swayed with but a taste to commit utter treason.